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Why Three?

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Why did Jesus only take three disciples with Him into the room of the dead girl, up the Mount of Transfiguration and to pray with Him in the garden of Gethsemane?  Was Jesus, who being God, also a respecter of no man, playing favourites, or was the Lord trying to teach us something by putting into practice something He had taught the twelve?  Nowhere did Jesus teach us to set aside disciples of special talent so that one can disciple them more.  Jesus did not teach favouritism.  Even when it came to Martha and Mary, note that Jesus said that it was Mary who chose what was better.  Jesus did not choose Mary to listen to Him, but Mary chose to listen to Him.

So what is the secret of the three?  And if you look at the selection of the three, it begs the obvious question:  Should it not be four?  For the three were Peter and the brothers James and John.  Yet Peter had a brother too – Andrew, who introduced Peter to Jesus.  Yet Andrew was not included in the four.  Jesus could have chosen from the other nine who had no sibling in the group.  But Jesus specifically chose from the two pairs of brothers and left out one.  Why?

The secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven and the secret of the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of God open up when we begin to understand the parable of the sower.  In the parable, three types of soil allowed the seed to grow – the rocky ground, the thorny ground and the good soil.  The path did not allow any growth at all, but rather, it attracted the birds, or as the Lord said, “…Satan the devil comes and takes away the word…” [Mark 4.15; Luke 8.12 The Testimony]

Here is the lesson:  If the Lord chose four disciples instead of three, then His words would have attracted a ‘Satan’ – one who does not have in mind the things of God, but of men.  The elimination of the fourth meant that He was not wasting His word, which is sacred and precious.  He eliminated the one who did not accept the word – the doubter, the unbeliever.  However, He chose only three to sow into them the ‘best’ seed.  These three represent the seed on the rock, the seed among the thorns and the seed on good soil.  That is, they are the three who would best give the word a chance to bear fruit.  They are the ones who would rejoice, even though when times of testing comes, one will be removed.  They are the ones who will grow and not wither with tests, but the cares of the world will prevent them from bearing fruit.  And finally, you have one that will bear fruit, even a hundred times as much.

James brother of John was used to represent the seed on rocky ground.  When persecution started, he was the first to be killed and removed from the ministry.  It was as if the word of Jesus that was sown in him withered.  Peter was used to represent the seed among the thorns.  The cares of the world, represented by the desire to please the Jews and the men from James, caused him to remain unfruitful and earned him the rebuke from Paul in Galatians 2.  John was used to represent the seed on good soil, so that after a time he yielded forth a harvest.  When near the end of his life, he was given the Revelation to write, which included in it words from Jesus, which were not recorded in the gospels.

However, in using James, Peter and John, Jesus also showed us the way to overcome the problem of the seed on the rock and the seed among the thorns.  In being the first of the apostles to be martyred, James was transplanted from his ministry to a future ministry as a king in the millennium.  It is like taking the seed that has sprouted on the rock and transplanting it to a nursery and setting it aside for the future.  Why?  Because a seed that sprouts on a rock displays a genetic trait of strength that can help future seed stocks.  In a way, James’ request to be on the left or right of Jesus was granted.  He wanted to be ‘special’ among the others, and he is the first to be martyred.

Peter was choked by the cares of the Jewish world and the deceitfulness of a wealth of influence and good reputation among the Jews who were zealous for the law like James the Younger.  However, Jesus allowed him to grow, that is, to continue to minister, struggling against the weeds, and when harvest was near, removed all the weeds by putting him in prison and having him martyred.  Like James, he was transplanted, but at a later stage to provide seeds for a future sowing as it were.  For the seed that can survive among the thorns has a genetic strength that can be good for future seed stock.  As such, Peter, like a plant that has been transplanted from the weeds to a fertile patch, is coming back to reign also.

And John, he left to last, to yield forth the desired harvest in this age, and because he was so fruitful, retained him for the next age by also letting him be martyred.

And that is why there were three – James, Peter and John.

How does this apply to you in your ministry?  Learn to sow into good soil, but do not discard those who are among the weeds and the rock.  They can still be of use, but learn to avoid those who will reject the word.  You can take this into the Lord’s teaching about agreement:  “…if two of you on Earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you…  For where two or three come together in My Name, there am I with them.”  [Matthew 18.19-20]

Learning to sow with discretion the things that matter yields forth the harvest with less wastage of effort and time, for in not including a fourth, Jesus eliminated the waste and the doubt so that the faith could work better.  That is why the best person to agree with is the Holy Spirit, and as you do to Him what you want done to yourself, so He will agree with you as you abide in Jesus and the words of Jesus abide in you.  So, rejoice every time you have the privilege to have a voice to say, “Amen, Holy Spirit.”

Hr. Ed, manager of the Holy Spirit’s Workshop

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